Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy Couture Ballgown

Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy Couture Ballgown

Worn in the film 'Love In The Afternoon'

25/11/2021    

 

Audrey Hepburn pictured with the Givenchy dress

 

Starring in our ‘Passion for Fashion’ auction on Tuesday 7th December is the haute couture ballgown by Hubert de Givenchy worn by the incomparable Audrey Hepburn in the 1957 film ‘Love in the Afternoon’.

 

A scene from 'Love in the Afternoon', released in 1957, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper

 

The picture-perfect gown is the very epitome of Audrey - the fitted, strapless bodice is delicately embroidered and spangled with sequins, the 20.5in waist accentuated by a perfect sky-blue satin bow, atop layer upon layer of silk point d’esprit, forming a ballgown skirt. It is a dress of dreams - Hollywood dreams, to be exact. Made during the period which fashion historians refer to as ‘the golden age of couture’, it oozes an elegant glamour and romance at its height.

 

Lot 79, Audrey Hepburn's Givenchy haute couture white point d'esprit ball gown worn in the opera scene of 'Love in the Afternoon', released in 1957, estimate £30,000-50,000

 

Audrey wears this gown in the Opera Scene of 'Love in the Afternoon'. She plays the role of ingenue Ariane who captures the heart of a libertine American playboy played by Gary Cooper (who at the time was old enough to be Audrey's father). Renowned French cinema veteran Maurice Chevalier plays the role of Ariane's protective father, whose profession is a private detective, specialising in adulterous affairs. The film was directed by Billy Wilder and released in 1957. It is a light-hearted romance with an unlikely plot - and Audrey, with clipped English vowels, seemingly an unlikely daughter to French Maurice Chevalier. However, Audrey's performance, her beauty and Givenchy's fashions light up every scene in which she appears.

 

Lot 79, Audrey Hepburn's Givenchy haute couture white point d'esprit ball gown worn in the opera scene of 'Love in the Afternoon', released in 1957, estimate £30,000-50,000

 

Film-worn gowns belonging to Audrey Hepburn are incredibly rare. But the story of this dress is not just one of cinematic fame, but one of an enduring friendship. Audrey would occasionally keep and rewear her screen-worn clothes. Growing up during the privations of WWII, she was raised with a ‘waste not, want not’ attitude which she retained throughout her life. Whenever commissioning gowns from Hubert de Givenchy, Audrey always requested that he made extra-large seam returns so that she could pass the dresses on to others, who could then alter them to wear. Audrey gifted this particular gown to her childhood friend Tanja Star-Busmann in 1958. Tanja had just given birth to her daughter, and the dress arrived packed in a large cardboard box with a note attached from Audrey, stating that she thought it might remind Tanja what it was like to have a waistline again! In 1961 Tanja then lent the gown to her then-nanny who wore it and adapted it, removing most of the lace trim and the bow from the front and making three smaller bows on the back to help conceal the panel that had been inserted to make it larger. These later alterations have been expertly and painstakingly reversed, and the dress is now returned to its original ‘Audrey’ size and shape.

 

Lot 79, Audrey Hepburn's Givenchy haute couture white point d'esprit ball gown worn in the opera scene of 'Love in the Afternoon', released in 1957, estimate £30,000-50,000

 

An important example of haute couture from the ‘golden age’, this gown not only represents the very essence of Audrey Hepburn’s iconic style, but the kindness of heart and generosity of spirit for which she became known - and continues to be remembered for.

 

'Passion for Fashion' Auction

Tuesday 7th December, 1pm

Lot 79, Audrey Hepburn's Givenchy haute couture white point d'esprit ball gown worn in the opera scene of 'Love in the Afternoon', 1956, estimate £30,000-50,000

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